HOMILY FOR THE TWENTY-THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME OF THE YEAR B
THEME: IS IT POSSIBLE THAT I AM DEAF AND DUMB?
BY: Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 5 2021
The gospel periscope today is one of those extreme helical verses in the bible. Though sounds crazy from a human perspective but rather a spiral because of Christ’s actions:
1. Taking the deaf and dumb man aside (protecting him from embarrassment).
2. Mixing sand and spittle and putting his fingers into his ears
3. Telling a deaf and dumb man not to tell anyone that he is healed when it is so open. (Blocking all ostentatiousness)
However, the readings emphasis hearing God’s Word and speaking God’s Word. And if we go from that perspective, is it possible that a lot of us are deaf and dump? Crazy question, right?
So, what does God want. The second reading vividly explains that in St James’ ‘manifesto for social justice’; and that will be the fulfilment of the prophesy in the first reading from Isaiah- the coming of God’s kingdom. Talking and hearing are very vital in our daily interactions. We cannot imagine a world without ears and mouths; that would change the whole dynamics of communication and comprehension. Hearing, talking, as well as seeing, and walking are so essential to life that those who do not have them are considered to have an impairment or disability.
While Israel was still in being, the Day of the Lord was a threat, a day of expected punishment. Once the axe of the Babylonian exile had fallen, and disaster had come upon the whole of Israel and Judah, the Day of the Lord becomes a promise of salvation. Hence this lovely, joyful poem, looking forward to the coming of the Lord to heal Israel and take vengeance on her tormentors. It looks forward to the coming of the Lord himself, the Messiah (the Lord’s anointed).
The challenge before us today is; do we listen to the voice of God? Or do we just hear God’s voice? Do we let the words of Christ sink into our hearts? Or are they just a stream of words that go into one ear and out through the other? In the Gospel today Christ gives the gift of hearing. The word ‘Ephphatha’ a Greek word preserved in Aramaic could mean ‘open’ and also ‘perceive’. He proclaims “be opened” and the ears of the deaf-mute suddenly are able to listen. Perhaps we need to pray that our own ears might be opened and we might be able to listen to the voice of God piercing through the chatter and clutter of our own culture in our own time.
This is a story about Jesus’ healing power, and in it we find clues about our understanding of sacrament. Jesus is the sacrament of God. In him God is active in the world, bringing peace, healing and joy. In him people met and experienced the compassion of God. His gestures of putting his fingers into the man’s ears and touching his tongue with spittle are affectionate ways of showing that God is physically at work in him. As we say outward sign of an inward grace or if you like practical sign for an inward grace. We are struck by these physical means used to heal the man, the use of spittle and touch. The Church continues to celebrate the sacraments using physical means.
Finally, my brothers and sisters, the healing of the deaf-mute is a source of hope for many of us today. Many of us are spiritually deaf and dumb. We pray that we might listen to God’s voice coming to us in the poor, the lonely, the broken-hearted and the abandoned. Let us pray that through the sacraments and the word of God, you and I will be completely healed.
God bless you!
Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara